When online shopping is so convenient for the customer, retailers with brick-and-mortar (B&M) stores often face challenges in getting more foot traffic in-store. Additionally, picking, packing, and shipping packages is an expensive logistical challenge, so finding a way to drive customers to the store can kill two birds with one stone.
Enter the Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS)/curbside pickup model. This blend of digital convenience and physical retail offers a seamless shopping experience that modern consumers have come to expect from their favorite retailers.
While BOPIS isn’t necessarily a new concept, it has since become something every retailer with a B&M presence should offer. In this article, we’ll break down the ins and outs of BOPIS programs, why you should implement one for your retail store, and how to design a winning BOPIS strategy to increase profits and improve overall customer loyalty and satisfaction.
What is BOPIS in Retail, and How Does BOPIS Work?
Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store is a hybrid shopping model that combines the convenience of ordering online with the immediacy of in-store pickup. This kind of retail strategy allows customers to browse and purchase products online and collect their items directly from a physical store. BOPIS bridges the gap between digital and physical retail, providing a seamless shopping experience that caters to the modern consumer’s desire for speed and convenience.
Under the BOPIS umbrella, you’ll also find similar models like:
- ROPIS: Reserve Online, Pick Up In-Store.
- BOPAC: Buy Online, Pick Up At Curbside
- BORIS: Buy Online, Return In-Store
- BOPIL: Buy Online, Pick Up In Locker
With the rise of such services as Amazon Prime's next-day – and sometimes even same-day – delivery, online shoppers are starting to crave instant gratification when it comes to shopping, regardless of whether your store is a giant global retail behemoth or a mom-and-pop style boutique. For retailers who don’t have nearly the same networks and resources as the Wal-Marts and Amazons of the world, BOPIS can help bridge the gap.
Why Retailers Should Offer a BOPIS Option
With the rise of online shopping, retailers need to start looking for ways to cater to a wide variety of shoppers. Here’s how a great BOPIS program helps merchants meet some of their greatest challenges.
More online purchases for orders that don't qualify for free shipping and from customers who refuse to pay for shipping
Shipping is expensive! Because of this, many people refuse to pay for it since the cost is often not worth the convenience. BOPIS offers the option to shop online from the bed or the couch without worrying about shipping minimums and extra costs.
Customers will prefer a BOPIS fulfillment if their order doesn’t meet your free shipping threshold over the possibility of adding an additional item to their carts in order to qualify. Despite popular belief, the customers you stop from abandoning their carts are people who would have otherwise walked away rather than added more items to the basket or paid for shipping.
As an ecommerce agency, our clients who have implemented BOPIS programs have seen a significant boost in sales with an AOV below their free shipping thresholds since having to pay for shipping is the number one driver of cart abandonment online.
No one wants to pay more money than they have to, regardless of whether it’s in the form of a shipping fee or an extra item they might not be motivated to buy.
Better overall customer experience
While we’ll dive deeper into benefits for customers a little later, having a BOPIS option available for shoppers greatly increases the customer experience overall, and as we all know, happy customers are return customers.
Retailers know that instant gratification is the name of the game, and a well-run BOPIS program is yet another way for them to let customers scratch that itch while also helping smaller retailers compete with the same-day/next-day shipping model that Amazon is loved by impatient shoppers for.
Offering different ways for shoppers to grab the items they’re looking for makes it easier to entice them to check out at your store. The quick turnaround time for BOPIS orders compared to having to navigate a store to find what you need – or have to wait for an order to ship and be delivered – opens up the opportunity for retailers to take advantage of a different type of customer than they would otherwise see buying their products.
For customers, BOPIS is one of the easiest ways to get what they want when they want it, and retailers who realize this are the ones who will come out on top with a bunch of very loyal – and very happy customers.
More foot traffic in-store equals more cross-sell opportunities
If done right, merchants have a unique opportunity to offer more products and add-ons to customers while they’re in the store. Delight your shoppers by offering them curated and personalized cross-sells right at the counter while they collect their merchandise by leveraging their historic engagement with your various channels and integrating them into a Customer Data Platform (CDP).
Even if you don't have a CDP in your stack, the native omnichannel selling capabilities of the Shopify POS, can give your team a 360° view of your customers, empowering them to engage with your customers based on their recent purchase history across all channels.
Stock products that your customers tend to impulse buy close to your pickup area for them to browse while you grab their BOPIS order. Try setting up the pick-up point in the back of the store so they need to pass the rest of your merchandise to meet you. Also, never miss an opportunity to mention if the item they’re buying needs refills or has any extra accessories they should pick up while they’re there.
Better cost control and easier logistics management
Start thinking about your stores not only as a point of sale but as a fulfillment center. Last-mile delivery costs can add up quickly. Imagine reducing your bills with delivery companies and the postal service by 30 - 40% every month with a single option at checkout. That’s the magic of BOPIS!
Orders for pick-up eliminate the need for the heavy-duty packing materials required for home delivery through the mail, which can reduce packaging costs for retailers.
The need for transport between distribution centers, stores, and customer homes can be reduced, leaving fewer logistics to manage and oversee. Finally, in-store and online inventory management systems can be consolidated, making operations and order fulfillment more streamlined. Using a platform like Shopify, it's incredibly easy to get a predictive view of which stores will require replenishments of which SKUs in order to maximize sales from that inventory location.
How to Design a Great BOPIS Program
So you're sold on the idea of starting a BOPIS program, now what?
Almost any retailer with a B&M location can implement a BOPIS program, but getting it right requires some extra planning. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Don't just turn it on; map out the operations and handle the training before taking BOPIS orders. Here are our tips for designing a BOPIS program that runs so smoothly your customers will rave about it!
Train Your Staff to Give Incredible In-Store Experiences and Reward Them for it
The success of BOPIS is heavily reliant on your team. Your program will fail if staff is in the dark about properly handling BOPIS orders. Remember, engaged and well-trained employees are your biggest asset in delivering exceptional customer service.
Pro tip: Look into how you’re attributing sales made for BOPIS options. Things here can backfire if your salespeople start to feel like all the best merchandise is being sold online and attributed as a web sale, making it hard for them to hit their targets and earn a commission for sales they technically still had a hand in. The shopping experience ends once the customer walks out the door; make sure they’re rewarded for providing a good in-store experience no matter what.
Use Tailored Marketing Tactics
If no one knows the option is there, they won’t use it. Make the availability of in-store pick-up clear to your customers with text on product search results, product pages, and at checkout.
Consider creating a few paid media campaigns to let local audiences know about your new program. Set up special offers for people using BOPIS to drum up more interest in testing it out.
Create an Efficient Pickup Area and Keep Customers in the Loop
The design and layout of the pickup area should be easily accessible, well-signed, and equipped to handle peak times. If you’re also implementing a BOPAC or BOPIL program, make sure to have enough parking spaces and signage to guide customers to the right place.
Quick and efficient order verification is key. Use technology to speed up this process and have a solid plan for managing queues, especially during high-volume periods, and consider adding a barcode to your order confirmation emails for easier pick-up. You’re expecting this program to go well, after all!
On the flip side, effective communication throughout the BOPIS process reassures customers. Automated updates, real-time tracking, and clear pickup instructions are not just conveniences; they're essentials here.
Inform customers when their orders are ready for collection, and make it clear that they shouldn’t head to the store until they receive an email/SMS confirming that their order is waiting for them. This should be stated at every touchpoint, such as the order confirmation page/emails/texts.
Make it clear to shoppers whether or not they can cancel their orders and for how long after they place them so that there are fewer logistical and customer service issues.
Have a Contingency Plan in Place for Errors, Bad Actors, and Surprise Issues
There’s more to consider than just offering great customer service at pickup. Think about the user experience and account for issues that may rear their ugly heads throughout the pick, pack, and pick-up process.
For example, you’ll need a contingency plan for inventory shrink issues linked to damage or theft. Do you cancel the order? Call the customer and ask if they'd like a partial refund or a replacement item? Ask if they’d like to delay their trip to the store until you can restock a fresh item?
As much as we’d like to hope it won’t happen, you should consider how you’ll be dealing with fraudulent orders and verification for high-value items. Will you just require customers to pick up based on their name or order number, or should you require each customer to provide ID before claiming their order? How will you ensure your staff are actually checking those IDs?
How will you handle reminding customers who don’t arrive to pick up their orders in time – for example, how many reminders will you send that an order is ready before canceling it and making the stock available to the next customer?
If your company also runs a dropship program, will you allow customers to return only items that originated from the store they purchased them from, or can they return all items, regardless of where they originated from?
It might seem rough at first when setting everything up, but having all these questions in mind when building your BOPIS program will save you a lot of headaches later on. This can be the difference between a customer's one-star and five-star review.
Have an Ecommerce Agency do the Heavy Lifting
Working with an ecommerce agency that has experience setting up BOPIS programs and the digital systems that support them is a surefire way to ensure that your program runs smoothly and is properly implemented from the get-go. Instead of handling all the above on your own, have someone with BOPIS experience handle the initial setup for you.
At Blue Badger, we like to take our time to get to know everything about our clients and their needs so that we can map out all their processes, interfaces, and user flows to ensure everything is set up optimally and your company is supported throughout the entire process. We’re also always available to provide you with tips and advice as you get started. With these methods, we’ve helped our clients turn up to 40% of their online sales into BOPIS orders.
BOPIS Benefits for Shoppers
While we’ve touched on the benefits that retailers will see in implementing BOPIS programs for their stores, it’s important not to forget how they benefit our most important assets: the customers.
Here’s how the BOPIS program you worked so hard to set up benefits your shoppers:
- No shipping fees: No one wants to pay for shipping, yet stores often need to set minimum order thresholds for it since it’s so expensive. Online shoppers can get around these minimums by picking up their items at a local store rather than paying for delivery.
- Much quicker turnaround time: With retail and ecommerce, immediacy is key. Customers can quickly make a purchase online and head in-store the same day to pick it up. This is much faster than waiting for orders to be packed, shipped, and delivered.
- No package theft: An increase in online shopping also leads to high levels of package theft. For customers living in homes and apartments where delivery drivers simply leave parcels in lobbies and on porches, BOPIS ensures that their orders make it home safely.
- Ease of returns and physical validation: BOPIS reduces the risk of items being damaged in transit and allows shoppers to inspect what they’ve purchased on-site for any issues they may have. While product returns are never ideal, it’s much easier to simply hand something back to a salesperson than to deal with the logistics of returning something by mail for everyone.
- Guaranteed inventory: If a product is available for BOPIS, it’s available in the store inventory, making it easier for customers to know if the item they need is available before arriving at the store.
It’s no secret that merchants benefit when their customers benefit. If done right, a BOPIS program can increase retailer profit while saving shoppers time and money.
The Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store model has proven to be a resilient and innovative solution in retail and ecommerce. Retailers considering a BOPIS strategy should approach it as a comprehensive part of their business model. This includes training staff for exceptional in-store experiences, employing targeted marketing tactics, creating an efficient pickup process, and having contingency plans for potential challenges.
When physical presence is a luxury for retailers, working with experienced ecommerce agencies like Blue Badger can provide the necessary expertise and support to ensure a successful implementation. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can build you an effective and successful BOPIS program.